De-Stress and Make Love Again | Reader's Digest

De-Stress and Make Love Again

A little creativity can rekindle those passionate feelings that got you together in the first place.

By Sarì Harrar and Rita DeMaria | Ph.D. from The 7 Stages of Marriage

Define a great sex life on your own terms. The happiest couples have sex on a regular basis, but nobody can define regular for you. And it’s a moving target. Half of all 20-somethings in a University of Chicago survey said they made love at least twice a week — and an active 11 percent had sex at least four times. But among couples in their early 40s, just 30 percent made love even two times between Monday and Sunday. Nearly half had sex just a few times a month, but couples in this age group were the happiest — emotionally and physically — with sexual intimacy. What it means for you: There are no rules. The two of you should consider and discuss the frequency and type of sex that makes you happiest — whether it’s three times a month or three times a week.

Chances are, each of you is comfortable with a different level of physical intimacy: One yearns for more; the other is happy with less. Talk about your needs and how you feel when you’re at that just-right level of physical closeness. Try to reach a compromise and to find ways to build in extra intimacy so you’re both happy. That could mean more cuddle time in addition to sex or simply seizing more of the thousands of daily opportunities to share a hug and a kiss.

Look sexier, feel sexier. It’s easy to put off healthy eating, exercise, even haircuts. It’s tempting to pull on those baggy old jeans after a long week and to fall into bed in a ragged T-shirt. We suggest making the effort to look attractive. Pull out your best jeans and most attractive tops. Dress up a little — for day and evening. Splurge on a sexy nightgown or lingerie. The payoff is as much for you as it is for your spouse: You’ll feel sexier and more attractive when you look spiffy.

Take your libido for a walk. Forget weird health-food-store aphrodisiacs. Exercise is a safe, proven energy- and libido-booster. A stroll, a swim, or a trip to the gym can get you in the mood and help you enjoy sex more. In one University of Vermont study that followed midlife women for five years, those who exercised regularly reported more sexual satisfaction and stronger libidos than light exercisers or couch potatoes. And in a Harvard University study, midlife men who ran for at least three hours per week had a 30 percent lower risk of impotence than nonexercisers. Other research suggests vigorous exercise, combined with a healthy diet and other healthy habits such as not smoking, can take 10 years off a man’s sexual age. The link? Healthier blood vessels. The bonus: Physical activity helps you feel good about your body, and more likely to want to be close.

Close your bedroom door. Keep your bedroom private so that the two of you will associate it with intimacy and romance — not with late-night TV, catching up on work, or dogs and kids jumping on the bed. This “off-limits” designation also gently trains your household to respect this personal parental space — but we still recommend locking the door for your own peace of mind before lovemaking begins.